Japan Airlines First Class B777-300/ER Tokyo to London

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

This trip report can also be seen in Youtube video format from below link.

 

 

BACKGROUND

JAL was once the largest airline by far in Asia-Pacific before its bankruptcy in 2011. JAL fleet boasts over 100 B747 in the 1990s and it is famous of various special livery adorned on their fleet. Growing up in the 90s era, the best memory of JAL is their “Tsuru” logo. I am rather glad they have gone back to the basics and used the “Tsuru” logo once again. JAL rarely promote outside of Japan to foreigners, this developed my curiosity. Have seen much ANA first class coverage but relatively fewer on JAL. I have wanted to fly the new JAL First Class for a long while. I would also like to compare JAL with the rest of competitors.

DEPARTURE

Prior to departure, Japan Airlines reservation agent informed me it will be a full flight with 7 out of 8 passenger in First Class. To my horror, all window seat were taken or blocked, I was allocated a center aisle seat, 2D. Nevertheless, the agent inserted a message to check in station to request a window seat for me.

I arrived at Tokyo Haneda Int’l terminal with only 15 minutes train ride from Kawasaki where I overnight and well rested.

The JAL check in is immaculately presented. There was no queue and I was greeted and given a boarding pass of 2A! (A much desired window seat). I was told only 4 passengers out of 8 today in First cabin. All formality was done in just 2 minutes! So polite, yet so efficient. Mistake free of course!

 

 

SAKURA LOUNGE

The check in agent escorts me to the fast track security queue, after security I turn left heading to the JAL Sakura Lounge.

Unfortunately, the First Class lounge is under construction as only recently long haul flights started flying in and out of Haneda instead of Narita. A separate area was reserved for F passenger in the main lounge. I helped myself with some fantastic Japanese breakfast.

Lounge design was bright, airy and minimistic, very Japanese.

My Japanese-Western breakfast with grill salmon, miso soup, bowl of Japanese rice and salad/sausage.

Famous JAL Curry is on offer even in the morning.

Apart from this self serve salad bar, there were also 2 choices of soup, omelette, various Japanese and Western style dishes. There were plentiful of food and drinks on offer.

 

BOARDING

I left the lounge a little earlier to the gate.

As you can see from the FIDS screen, many international departures in mid morning.

 

The boarding area is very neat and peaceful. No chaos at all.

JA742J, B777-346/ER will take us to London Heathrow.

Boarding is separated into 3 queues, First/Business, Premium Economy and Economy

2 Aerobridge is used for boarding, one for First Class and another one for the rest. I was first to board!

 

 

ONBOARD

The “W84” code version of JAL 77W have a total of 244 seats with following break down:

8 JAL Suites, 49 JAL Sky Suites, 40 JAL Sky Premium and 147 JAL Sky Wider

As you can see, it is focus on premium with only a small rear section for economy.

 

Compare the 77W seat map with their retired B744 served on London route. You can see the B744 configuration was even more business premium focused!

I was taken directly to my seat 2A, all the window shade was kept down. (Similar to US) I raised them up as I always enjoy the view onboard.

The first impression is very luxury feel, wide and spacious as it should be. It looks even better than their website. (https://www.jal.co.jp/en/inflight/inter/first/)

All 4 passengers occupied the window seat, leaving the middle pair empty (later on used for bed)

Simple and easy to understand design

A small screen console as TV remote.

A Mimosa to start the flight for me!

JAL Amenity Kit, a Shiseido branded Men’s lotion and a nice JAL gift handkerchief is presented on the table.

 

 

DEPARTURE

Boarding took just 20 minutes and we push back few minutes early. Everything’s done to perfection so far onboard JAL, as one would expect from the country of Japan. We taxied to runway 34R followed an ANA 77W bounds for Frankfurt.

An array of JAL Tsuru tail in Haneda.

 

Takeoff video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-BzvgruKbA

Our flight time to London is estimated to be 11 hours 50 minutes. Flight initially head North over Nigata, then onward over Far East Russia city of Khabarovsk, Northern Siberia, North of Moscow and St Petersburg before heading southwest towards Finland, Denmark and UK.

 

IN-FLIGHT SERVICE

 

After reaching initial cruising altitude, I changed into my JAL pyjama and leisurely took a few more photos of the First Class cabin.

My seat with Japanese cushion.

Good privacy can be had in Semi-Open suite.

Wide and minimistic.

The usual range of magazine is offer, with a large range of duty free. I bought a Tiffany tie later.

JAL have great wifi coverage onboard which support multiple devices. I used the wifi during the whole flight for US$18.80.Wifi provider is T mobile.

Snack is offered before the meal service. It is worth to mention the Champagne Salon 2002 is magnificent, only available to JAL F passengers. It is noteworthy to mention Champagne house has been releasing Champagne only for years when the grapes are truly exceptional. The other champagne is Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose “Alexandra” 2004

Not long, lunch is ready course by course. Here is a PDF copy of the menu.

Dining on JAL is a grand affair!

The purser seeing me undecided, offer me to try both cuisine (Japanese and Western!) An offer I cannot turn down!

Japanese Zatsuki: Octopus with tomato ball

Amuse Bouche: Onion Gratin Soup flan, Caviar and Foie Gras Mousse

Follow by Japanese Appetizer

Main Course/Dainomono: Grill Wagyu Beef Fillet with cutlassfish

Western dessert: Pear Pie with local made milk custard

It was very satisfying, not only the taste but the attention to details on Japanese meal is second to none. The day before I flew from Singapore to Tokyo with Singapore Airlines, their Japanese meal pale in comparison with JAL, yes, they’re not just good, they’re perfect

 

 

A BEAUTIFUL SLEEP

 

 

After the meal, the FA have turned down the seat next to me convert into a full 2m bed. A choice of hard or soft mattress was offered. To be precise, the mattress come with 2 sides, one side is soft and another side is hard. I opt for the soft side. Little did I know, I slept solidly for almost 7 hours after!

We’re in Europe already and past Moscow after my beauty sleep!

 

Cabin Tour

There is a small bar area near door 1, where an adorable display have been set up for First Class passenger.

Business Class cabin with 2-3-2 stagger seating. JAL won the best Skytrax Business class seat. I have noticed JAL seat is notably wider than BA and Etihad 2-4-2 staggered. The screen is huge in Business.

Business Class Self Serve bar

Every toilet in the sky should have the feature as JAL does. Japanese electric operated bidet!

I manage to seize some opportunity to take photo with the very hard working crew. They actually encourage for photo, always keen to help to take photo of the passengers. Fiona is a lovely UK based crew joined JAL 13 years ago. Her Japanese has grown to nearly perfection.

Fiona and Yoshida who look after the First Class cabin.

 

PRE-ARRIVAL MEAL

There are plenty of food and choices. I order my pre-arrival meal from the menu below about 2 hours before landing. Little did I know later, I sampled the BEST meal ever on an aeroplane!

Fumiko’s Japanese set plate: Wagyu Marble beef

The beef is so amazing it literally melts in your mouth. I have never tasted such tender and soft meat on an aeroplane before. I went to ask for a second serving and I give it 10 stars!

Tokyo Curry Lab x Japan Airlines

JAL Royal Blue tea (tea, not wine)

Afternoon tea pieces on display from the bar

 

ARRIVAL

Prior to arrival, the cabin crew came around to thank me flying JAL and bow sincerely. I was in absolute awe. Everything on the flight was done to perfection and many little things surprised me.

My log book returned with flight information

London Heathrow fast track card

During approach, I was fortunate to film a British Airways B777 flying across. Please see the video.
We landed on LHR’s Easterly runway 09R few minutes early. Vin Man, a ground agent took the photo of my plane arriving to stand in T3. A glorious arrival with absolutely beautiful weather in London.

 

COMMENTS

Thank you JAL. When you didn’t want to leave from a flight that says enough how great the flight was.

JAL, like Japan is famous for its ultra efficiency, attention to details, polite and humbleness. This is the best First Class flight I have for a long while. I simply didn’t want to leave! The amazing yet adorable JAL service “from the heart” won me over! You have to experience it to understand the Japanese understated luxury.

TRIP VIDEO
This trip report can be BEST seen in Youtube video format from below link:

Sam Chui

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